10 Great Books That Every Leader Should Read

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10 Great Books That Every Leader Should Read

There’s a lot of management and leadership books out there. It’s hard to know which to choose. As a leader or aspiring leader, your best bet is to explore the vast array of unique approaches and form your own opinions on what will work for you. Not every book will include a surefire method suitable to your workplace, industry, and goals, but what you will glean from reading multiple titles is a better sense of where you want to go and how best to get there. To help you get started on that 2022 reading list, we’ve compiled a list of top book titles in leadership.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R.Covey

Through insights and practical anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Published in 1989, this book is surprisingly still effective in addressing the complex problems we currently face – connecting to people who are different from us, empathy, and, creating change that is beneficial to everyone. Just be sure to keep that publishing date in mind when it gets cringey or feels out of touch.

Primal Leadership

by Daniel Goleman

Primal Leadership illustrates the power and the necessity of leadership that is self-aware, empathic, motivating, and collaborative in a world that is becoming more and more complex. It explains why emotions are such a primal part of how our brains operate, and why emotional intelligence is essential to leadership. Professionals have embraced the ideas found in Primal Leadership and it’s used in universities and professional training programs across the globe.  

Dare to Lead

by Brené Brown

Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. In this book, Brené Brown presents 4 courage-building skill sets that can be nurtured in any individual and organization. As you read, you’ll learn the dangers of perfectionism, how vulnerability takes courage, and that to succeed in a complex and fluid world, organizations need brave leaders and courageous cultures.

Leading Without Authority

by Keith Ferrazzi and Noel Weyrich

Leading Without Authority redefines collaboration with a new way of viewing workplace dynamics – a place where leaders no longer require an official title or even a physical workplace. Drawing on over a decade of research and over thirty years helping leaders drive innovation and build high-performing teams, Ferrazzi discusses how leaders can turn colleagues into teammates to completely reinvent the way teams work together.

The Coaching Habit

by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit recommends leaders make coaching a regular, informal part of a workday as a way for teams to work less and deliver more impact. Drawing on years of experience training managers in practical coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your people’s potential. In a book that reads like a how-to manual, he provides seven essential questions to help you develop coaching methods that produce great results. You’ll be your own Ted Lasso before you know it.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

A true classic that holds up. How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936. To this day, over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books of all time. Here are a few things the book promises to deliver on: To get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, and new ambitions. To help you win people to your way of thinking. To increase your influence and your ability to get things done. Sound good? Add it to your list to see why so many people have read this book over the past century.

Atomic Habits

by James Clear

Atomic Habits is introduced as a guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day. That sounds doable, doesn’t it? As one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, James Clear shares practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. A must-read for anyone having trouble changing their tune.

Start with Why

by Simon Sinek

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? Start with Why shows that the leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act and communicate the same way, and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. Sinek’s Ted Talk on this subject has over 57 million views, so he must be onto something.

First, Break All the Rules

by Gallup

In this longtime management bestseller, Gallup presents the findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers. Some were in leadership positions, others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies, others were key players in small, entrepreneurial firms. Whatever their circumstances, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup’s research were those who excelled at turning each individual employee’s talent into high performance. Gallup’s research produced 12 simple statements that distinguish the strongest departments of a company from the rest. Most interestingly, First, Break All the Rules effectively demonstrates a link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards, like money. That's a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink. In this book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction at work, at school, and at home, is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does. In Drive, he examines the three elements of motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose – and offers smart techniques for putting these into action.

Additional Reading

Tools that help great leaders

You’re here to learn about essential leadership books, but the right tools are equally important to your success. To learn more about how Avanti’s helpful HRIS software can increase your efficiency, take an inside look at the Avanti experience!

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